Analysis of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Subject: Art
Type: Profile Essay
Pages: 2
Word count: 556
Topics: Art Comparison, Impressionism, Modernism, Pablo Picasso, Painting

In 1907, the famous artist Pablo Picasso started to work on one of his most famous pieces of art, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”. The initial plans of the artist were to include in the painting five women and two men. In the final work, however, there were five women who are gazing out in sexual desire. This painting depicts two aspects of inequality which are sexuality and gender. There are various aspects of sexuality and gender played in the creation of “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” . Notably there are several discourses that are brought about among painters and critics of art.

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The painting has poked various opinions including a lot of criticism from painters and art critics alike. They believed that the painting was offensive to the society. The depiction of prostitution was something odd at the time. The choice of the painter to only include women while he had initially planned to include two more men shows the gender aspect of the painting. During the time when the painter did this work, prostitution was a common profession in which women could engage in. it was, however, one line of work which was looked down upon in the public eye. It was for this reason why Pablo Picasso was highly criticized for making this painting. Additionally, the choice to depict people of a lower class by a high-ranking painter like Picasso was unusual. This was a platform which had been set aside for the religious idols and royalty (Dalton, 2013).

The painting was greatly inspired by the art of the renaissance and baroque era. The renaissance influence can be seen from the way the figures in the painting are seen emerging from a dark background to a brighter foreground. This was a representation of the breakaway from the earliest practices during the renaissance period. In the context of the painting, the illumination of the figures represented the attaining of sexual freedom. The baroque era was more focused on the everyday life. It was also a style of the baroque era to represent events of the lower class. This was the influence of the choice to portray prostitutes in the painting.

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“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” was a bold move by Pablo Picasso. Usually, it was a common occurrence to portray sexual art in the Renaissance and the baroque era. Picasso, however, did differently this time. The aspect of sexuality motivated the painter to portray a liberated view about prostitution. The painter was also apparently influenced by African art (Stiglitz, 2012). This is observed through the prostitutes are wearing black masks. This is to draw a distinction between the sex objects that they are and their daily lives. There is also the presence of straight lines in the painting.

“Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” is a painting which portrays aspects of inequality such as sexuality and gender. The painting was inspired by the renaissance and baroque art. The painter used this to portray the normal life of the people whereby in this case he covered prostitution. He ended up receiving a lot of criticism for the work which indicated that the public was not ready for such coverage of sensitive social issues. Although the painting had initially received negative views from various people, it still went ahead and today remains one of the most famous works of Picasso.

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  1. Dalton, H. (2013). Some aspects of the inequality of incomes in modern communities. Routledge.
  2. Giddens, A. (2013). New rules of sociological method: A positive critique of interpretative sociologies. John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Giddens, A. (2013). The consequences of modernity. John Wiley & Sons.
  4. Picasso, P. (1907). Les demoiselle’s d’Avignon, 1907. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  5. Stiglitz, J. E. (2012). The price of inequality: How today’s divided society endangers our future. WW Norton & Company.
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